Thank God for blessings seen and not yet seen Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

Thanksgiving's roots go back to the Pilgrims. After a long hard year during which more than half died from scurvy or exposure to the elements, survivors held a feast of thanksgiving during which they shared their blessings with Indian friends.

The Pilgrims thanked God that enough of them survived to start a new life for themselves and their descendants. As the colonies grew more prosperous, however, people tended to forget about Thanksgiving. Consequently, Thanksgiving was celebrated sporadically, if at all.

Effort to restore Thanksgiving

Sarah Hale was a plucky widow, mother of five children, and editor of a woman's magazine. She wrote the nursery rhyme Mary had a Little Lamb.

In 1822, she began a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents urging them to revive the celebration of Thanksgiving and restore it to its rightful place.

Three presidents turned her down. Eventually in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as an annual day of Thanksgiving.

In some ways, Lincoln was an unlikely person to do so because he seemed to have little for which to be thankful. Many members of his cabinet openly despised him and joked about him publicly. His wife had been investigated as a possible traitor, a process that deeply wounded Lincoln.

Being thankful for what  we have

Sometimes we can become more thankful for what we have when we see what others don't have. An anonymous author wrote, "If you woke up this morning and could hear the birds singing, use your vocal cords to utter human sounds, walk to breakfast and read the newspaper with two good eyes, you are more blessed than millions of people who cannot do such things.''

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of temptation, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, or torture, then you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes to wear, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 per cent of the world.

Thank God for our blessings by sharing them with others

The Gospel on the Feast of Christ the King (Sunday, Nov. 26) reminds us that we can thank God for our blessings by sharing them with our neighbor in need (Matthew 25:31-46 ).

Years ago a salesman was reduced to living out of his car because he could not sell anything. He ate nothing for two days. He was so hungry that he walked into a diner and ordered breakfast. He was broke.

As he devoured his breakfast, he wondered how he would get out of paying for it. When the bill came, he told the waitress that he left his wallet in the car which was true, but he did not say there was no money in it.

The diner's owner had already sized him up and could see that he didn't have any money. The owner approached the salesman and bent down to pick up a piece of paper that the man had apparently dropped.

Then he straightened up and growled at the broke salesman, ''Sir, it looks as if you dropped this $20 bill. You should be more careful with your money!" He handed the man a $20 bill, winked, and fled to hide in the kitchen.

Thanks to the owner's generosity, the salesman now had enough money to pay for the breakfast, buy gas, as well as five loaves of bread and two pounds of butter. He never forgot this undeserved act of generosity and goodness. Since then, whenever he can, he tries to pass on the man's generosity to others, especially as a Secret Santa.

Since Eucharist means Thanksgiving, let us resolve to thank God by participating in Mass on Thanksgiving Day and whenever we can.

May our Thanksgiving Day be filled with food, fellowship, gratitude, and love. May we continue to thank God every day for our blessings that we see and don't see yet!


Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.